Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Drunken Noodles

I've never really been much for Thai food. In fact, I'm pretty comfortable saying that I don't like it. There's a Thai restaurant in Minneapolis that everyone goes gaga over. I don't see what's the big deal. So it might sound weird when I say that when I saw this recipe pop up on my google reader, I knew I had to make it. Elly's musings on her thoughts about Thai food rang really true for me. She says “I’m not crazy about peanut sauces, I don’t like cilantro, and I’m hesitant about coconut milk in savory food. And when you take away those three things, that leaves you with … well, not Thai.” Except I take that one step further – I also don’t like Thai Basil. So, when I read on to see that she really liked this recipe, I was in. 

Then, I read the ingredients. I had never heard of Golden Mountain seasoning or Black soy sauce. I read how Elly had to trek across town to try to find them. Seeing as I’m pretty sure Elly lives in Chicago, I thought I was doomed to try to find them in the St. Paul suburbs. Much to my surprise, I was able to find them both at the regular grocery store down the street – granted, in bottles so large I’m fairly certain I now have a lifetime supply.

This was really good. I wish it would have been even spicier, so I think I would use either more Sambol Oelek or chiles next time. I also think I would’ve liked it with more crunchy veggies instead of noodles for some different textures – more bean sprouts, baby corn cobs, thinly sliced cabbage, matchstick bamboo… maybe even some matchstick zucchini. My husband, who generally dislikes the Asian cuisines, ate this without needing to make an emergency McDonald’s run, which I take as a compliment.

Drunken Noodles
Serves 3-4

8 oz flat rice noodles
2 TBSP canola oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
½ lb chicken thighs, cut into thin strips
1 TBSP fish sauce (I used soy instead)
2 TBSP black soy sauce
2 TBSP Golden Mountain seasoning
1 ½ TBSP Sambal Oelek
½ TBSP sugar
¼ cup spinach (I used instead of Thai basil
½ - 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
¼ cup sliced green onions


Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add bell pepper and chicken and sauté until the chicken is about half-way cooked, about 2-3 minutes.

Whisk the fish sauce, black soy sauce, Golden Mountain seasoning, and Sambal Oelek together in a small bowl. Add to the chicken mixture and cook until the chicken is done.

Add noodles, bean sprouts, and spinach and toss to coat. Cook for about a minute. Garnish with green onions.

UPDATED: I made this recently with matchstick carrots, bamboo, thinly sliced cabbage, and onions and omitted the noodles. It was amazing.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza

My husband and I were recently in Mexico. We ate a ton of great food while we were there, including barbacoa and conchita pibil tacos that I still dream about. I even went out and bought achiote seeds so I can make cochinita pibil at home. This is not a post about either of those (yet). Rather, this is my version of Papa Murphy's BBQ chicken pizza.  It's going to get cold and snowy soon, so you should make it soon!

Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza
Serves 3ish

1 ball pizza dough (I like this recipe)
2 boneless chicken breasts
Barbeque sauce (I like this recipe)
1 small red onion, sliced
3-4 scallions, chopped
4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat your grill and oil the grates. Grill should be heated to about medium.

Season the chicken breasts with salt & pepper. Grill until lightly charred and cooked through. Cut into thin-ish slices and set aside. At the same time as you're cooking the chicken, cook the onions in a grill basket (this is optional, but I think it tastes better go get rid of the raw onion-y flavor).

Roll out the pizza dough to about a 14-inch round. Brush about 1 TBSP oil on the top put the oiled side down on the grill. Cook for about 3 minutes. Take off the grill, oil the raw side, and flip over. Put down your BBQ sauce, cheeses, chicken, onions, and scallions. Put back on the grill, raw side down, and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the crust is cooked through (about another 3-5 minutes).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chicken in Roasted Tomato Pan Sauce

Sometimes I think I shouldn't be allowed at the Farmer's Market. When I get there, I all of a sudden think I'm a hippie nature girl that will have no problem eating tons of vegetables. So, I buy several baskets of tomatoes.... and then realize that only one of the two of us in my household actually likes tomatoes (and that one would not be me). There's something about the texture. I like them cooked, but raw is another thing. I considered buying "rainbow" carrots. I even considered buying some fresh broccoli, until I reminded myself that I think the stuff tastes like grass.

Anyway, back to the tomatoes. I used most of them to make homemade tomato sauce, but when you combine the leftover two with the abundance of ripe tomatoes in my back yard, I needed something to do with them, and quickly. So, I came across this recipe and thought it would be a tasty way to use up those tomatoes. And it was. The sauce was practically jumping with the flavor of the roasted tomatoes and when combined with the hint of dijon mustard, it created the perfect amount of tang. When you add it to the chicken, it was one very delicious, very late-summery dinner.

Seared Chicken Breasts in Roasted Tomato Pan Sauce
Recipe from Food Network, adapted
Serves 4
Prep Time - 5 minutes
Cook Time - 25 min


  • 4 medium tomatoes 
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 TBSP dijon mustard
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh basil
  • 3 TBSP salted butter, cut into pieces

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

  • Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place them onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with canola oil and then season with salt & pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until they're nice and soft.

  • Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet to medium heat and add 1-2 TBSP canola oil. Season the chicken with salt & pepper on both sides. When the pan is heated, add the chicken to the pan and cook until brown on both sides and cooked through, probably about 3-5 minutes per side. When the chicken is done, remove from the pan and place on a plate. Tent with foil if you want.

  • If you have a lot of excess oil in your pan, drain off most of it. Add the chicken stock to the pan to deglaze and scrape up any brown bits.  Add the mustard to the pan and whisk together. 

  • Add the tomatoes and any juices from the baking sheet to the pan. Mash up the tomatoes with a potato masher. Add the basil and stir to combine. 

  • Once everything is combined, add the butter and stir it in. 

  • Return the chicken breasts to the pan and let cook for just a couple of minutes to get the flavors to meld a little. 

  • Serve the chicken with sauce on top.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Grilled Pizza Margherita

My favorite pizza, hands down, is a pizza margherita. A nice crispy crust, a fresh tomato sauce, fresh basil, and mozzarella is all I need. I've been on the hunt for the best pizza margherita since the first time I got back from Italy (12 years ago... *feels old*). I found it a few years ago at a restaurant in Minneapolis, but I don't have the time to drive up there every time I get a craving. By the way, if you're a twin cities resident and you read this blog, please don't recommend Punch. I've been there. Yes, I know they claim the owners are from Naples. Their pizza sucks donkey balls.

During this process, I also discovered that I get irrationally annoyed when people call something margherita but it's clearly not. I was at a pizza place not too long ago where their margherita was advertised as having olives on it. Another one had goat cheese and gorgonzola. I'm pretty sure I saw one once that had bacon on it. Maybe delicious... margherita, not so much.

I also discovered a few places that spell it like the Mexican-ish blended tequila cocktail. I half hoped the pizza had some form of liquor and lime incorporated. But no.

When we were watching an episode of Good Eats not too long ago, we decided we had to give making our own on the grill a go. And despite the fact that pizza should be delivered to my house in about an hour, I venture that this stuff is better than anything you can get at most pizzerias.

So get to it. Make this pizza. And if you do, bring me one, OK?

Grilled Pizza Margherita
Recipe from Alton Brown, Adapted
Makes 1 large pizza or 2 small

1 recipe pizza dough
4 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning (optional, but I recommend it)
4-6 basil leaves, torn
2-4 oz sliced fresh Mozzarella cheese

Make your dough and roll it out so it's pretty thin - use your judgment how thin, but I'd say we usually do somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch thick. Lay it on a greased pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet.

Oil your grill grates and preheat the grill to medium.

Once heated, brush your dough with about 1-2 tsp of oil and put your dough on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes. Take it off the grill, brush the raw side with oil, and flip it over.

Put the tomatoes on the grill and cook them until they're nice and soft and mashable. This should take somewhere between 5-10 minutes (it usually takes us about 8).

Put the tomatoes on top of the dough (cooked side) and mash up to make the sauce. Put the torn basil leaves on top of the sauce and top with sliced mozzarella. Return to the grill and cook until the crust is done and the cheese is melted, about another 2-3 minutes. Let cool a bit before cutting and eating.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pot Roast Hoagies

I spent my childhood consuming a lot of gravy. Specifically, hunks of meat with lots of gravy and either mashed potatoes or egg noodles. I think that's what you get when you're Scandinavian and live in the upper midwest. Most of my friends with similar upbringings share my love for gravy. Maybe you don't even have to be Scandinavian. Maybe you just have to have grown up in the upper midwest. Or maybe you just have to have grown up in the United States in the 1980s. Who knows. This staple of my childhood has stayed with me into adulthood, though I now prefer my gravy-drenched hunks of meat in sandwich form. Pot roast in brown gravy on a hoagie bun? Yes, please.

This is another pre-move clean-out-the-pantry dish. The recipe I based it off of called for brisket, but the stores around here only stock that sporadically, and the only briskets I could find were organic, free range, grass fed, Kosher briskets for somewhere around $20-30/lb. So, I used a regular rump roast instead. I'm sure it would be great with brisket, but considering I'm not Jewish and made this recipe to get rid of some pantry items, spending the money on the hippie Kosher brisket wasn't worth it to me. 

I loved this sandwich. My husband thought it was decent. But he's not a big pot roast fan so take his opinion with a grain of salt.

Please excuse the bad picture

Pot Roast Hoagies
Recipe adapted from Food Network
Prep Time - 15 min
Cook Time - 8 hrs on low, 4 hrs on high
Serves 4-6

1 2-3 lb roast
salt & pepper
3 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
1 packet slow-cooker pot roast seasoning
2 cups beef stock
2 cups red wine (I used a Pinot Noir)
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 cup cold water
1 packet low-sodium brown gravy mix
Hoagie buns

Put the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in the bottom of your slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker on and put the lid on to let it get a bit warm before you add the meat. 

Heat a pan on the stove to medium-high heat and put a bit of olive oil in the bottom. Season the meat liberally with salt & pepper on all sides. Add to the pan and sear for a couple minutes per side. Put it in the slow cooker. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the beef stock, wine, tomato paste, and pot roast seasoning. Pour the mixture into your crock pot. Add a bay leaf. 

Cook on low for 8-10 hrs.

Once the roast is done, take it out of the crockpot and let it sit for a few minutes while you make the gravy.

Pour the liquid through a strainer and add to a large pan or a pot on your stove. Turn the meat to medium. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the gravy mix with cold water. Whisk this into your sauce on the stove. Let heat for a few minutes, until gravy thickens. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. 

Cut the meat and put it on hoagie buns and slather with gravy. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Now Blogging from a New Location (and Taco Pizzas)

I know I've been gone for a while. Quite a while. I have a good reason, I swear! My husband and I bought a house and we moved! We're finally starting to get (at least a little) settled in. I'm still getting used to my new kitchen. It's been a process. But I do have a great recipe to share with you. I came up with this one when I was desperately trying to figure out what to do with various things from my pantry and freezer before we moved. I'm not completely sure why frozen pita bread inspired me to make chicken taco pizzas, but I went with it. At any rate, it was a good decision. You should do yourself a favor and make these.

Grilled Chicken Taco Pizzas
Serves 2ish
Cook & Prep Time - about 50 minutes (30 minutes are inactive)

3-4 pita breads
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Mexican-ish spices (described below)
red onion, sliced thinly
green bell pepper, sliced thinly
jalapeno pepper, sliced thinly
Monterrey Jack cheese
Olive oil

Make a Mexican-ish spice rub. I combined about 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, and 1/8 tsp dried oregano. Rub this into the chicken breast and let it marinate for about 30 minutes.

Grill the chicken breast and the veggies until chicken is cooked through and veggies are soft. Remove both from the grill and cut the chicken into narrow strips.

Brush the pita breads with some olive oil and put down on the grill. Let cook for about a couple of minutes and then take off the grill, flip over, and brush the other side with olive oil. Top with chicken, veggies, and Monterrey Jack cheese. Return to the grill and cook for a few more minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Serve with your favorite taco condiments, like salsa and sour cream.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chicken Tender Melts

Like most people, I have fund memories of late nights/early mornings spent at the local Perkins restaurant. If you're one of the unlucky ones to live in a state without Perkins, you have my sympathies. When I was younger, it was either Saturday morning breakfast with grandma and grandpa, or Sunday morning family breakfast/lunch with friends from church. In high school, it was where we'd gather with groups of friends to hang out (especially when Dairyland wasn't open, either because it was closed for the season, or it was too late at night). In college, it was where we'd gather with groups of friends to hang out or study (often into the wee hours), or satisfy that odd craving for a slice of their amazing French Silk pie and a plate of onion rings (a combination I ordered way more times than I like to admit). 

When I was younger, one of the things they were known for is serving things (noteably, salads) in bread bowls roughly the size of the average human head . I was so intrigued by the concept of the breadbowl that I found myself ordering various breadbowl salads frequently, despite the fact that I didn't start liking salads until I was about 17. Much to my parents probable chagrin, I ended up eating the breadbowl and the rest of the salad accoutrement, but none of the lettuce.

Then, I discovered their chicken tender melt. Crisp chicken tenders, bacon, and melted pepperjack cheese inside grilled sour dough with a ranch dipping sauce. Delicious! Of course, like a large portion of my favorite chain restaurant items, it's since been taken off the menu. So I tried re-creating it at home. And it was a success.

Chicken Tender Melts
Inspired by Perkins Restaurant
Serves 2

6-8 chicken tenders (we made our own)
4-6 slices pepperjack cheese
4 slices sourdough bread
4 strips bacon

Cook the chicken tenders until cooked through. I think frying the chicken tenders would produce the best results (and more true to the original), but I think baking them or even using grilled chicken breast strips would  also be really good.

Cook off a few strips of bacon. Drain and set aside until you start making the sandwich.

Assemble the sandwich like you would a grilled cheese: butter the outsides of two slices of sourdough. Place on top of it 1-2 slices of pepperjack, then 3-4 chicken tenders, then 2 strips of bacon, then another 1-2 slices of pepperjack. Top with the remaining slice of buttered bread.

Grill over medium high heat until golden brown on both sides, probably about 4 minutes each.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chicken in Whiskey Cream Sauce

It's not often that I blog about something on the same day I make it. Usually, I think about it for a few days (sometimes consult my husband for his opinion) and decide whether it's something I should share. This is not one of those dinners that requires that sort of pondering. However, truth be told, I probably wouldn't blog about this so quickly if it weren't for my wonderful husband deciding to do the dishes and clean the kitchen tonight (I kind of think he was trying to get out of being in the vicinity when I was watching Sister Wives, but whatever...). So, please believe me when I tell you that you have to make this recipe.

For the past few months, I haven't had a ton of time during the week to spend in the kitchen. I miss it terribly. As a result, I end up making a mess of the kitchen on the weekend. Today, I made bagels, pita bread, roasted most of a chicken, and made this little plate of deliciousness. I think I had one clean pan and about 2 inches of free counterspace when I got done in the kitchen.  Considering it's raining and a bit cold, I decided a nice chicken in a cream sauce with mashed potatoes would hit the spot. And it did. Boy, did it ever. Go make it now. You won't regret it. And truth be told, this is probably something a person with a normal schedule could make easily during the week. I just don't have the luxury of normalcy.

 Chicken in Whiskey Cream Sauce
Serves 2 (sauce probably serves 4)
Prep Time - 5 minutes
Cook Time - 35 minutes

4 pieces bone-in chicken (we used legs & thighs)
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBSP butter
salt & pepper (for seasoning chicken)
1/2 cup whiskey (I used Tullamore Dew - we only buy Irish)
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 small onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup half & half (I'm sure cream or 2% milk would be equally good)
2 TBSP flour
salt & pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil & butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Skin the chicken if you want (if you want to be healthy or something - the rendered fat provides great flavor to the onions you'll eventually be sweating). Season the chicken pieces with salt & pepper. Add to skillet and brown on all sides.

Transfer chicken to a roaster and finish in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is done.

While chicken is roasting, add the onions and garlic to the pan and stir. Add whiskey to the pan to deglaze. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add stock and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the garlic. Let simmer for about 5-10 minutes.

Add half & half and flour to the pan and whisk together. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. If it starts to get too thick, add more stock or cream (decide which you're going to use based on how indulgent you're feeling).

When the chicken is cooked through and the skin is nice and crispy, remove from the oven and spoon the sauce over the top to serve. Serve with mashed potatoes (I'm sure the sauce would be great over egg noodles, too, and I plan on trying that with the leftovers later this week). Have an after-dinner Bailey's on ice as a night-cap.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken Juicy Lucy

I have a confession. It's considered a somewhat shameful one for a Minnesotan. When I tell people, I usually get looked at like I have 3 heads. Well, here it is. I don't like Juicy Lucys. For those of you who aren't from Minnesota and don't know what those are, it's a cheeseburger that is stuffed with cheese instead of melted on the top. They're sort of a Minnesota institution. I love the concept, but I have tried many, and the execution is always poor. What should be a delicious, juicy, molten-hot cheese filled burger usually ends up being a dried out, over-cooked molten-hot cheese filled burger. I've even asked if they could please not cook the crap out of my burger, but I always get the same result. So I've given up ordering them in restaurants.

Now, lest I get a bunch of angry comments from people saying I've blasphemed their favorite places, let me make one thing clear. I love the 5-8 Club. I think they have, hands down, the best burgers in the twin cities area. Matt's Bar is great and I also enjoy the Blue Door Pub (I'm purposely leaving The Nook off this list. I understand it's a St. Paul institution. I do not understand why). I just do not like Juicy Lucys.

I remained convinced that a Juicy Lucy doesn't have to be dry. So I tried making one at home with ground chicken. I'm happy to report that my Juicy Lucy remained juicy and delicious. I'm anxious to try making one with ground beef now.

Chicken Juicy Lucy
Serves 2
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 10ish minutes

1/2 lb ground chicken
10-12 slices pepperoni, chopped into little pieces
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP finely chopped onion
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
shredded cheese
toasted buns
garlic mayonnaise

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add a couple of TBSP of olive oil to the pan.

Mix together the ground chicken, pepperoni, salt & pepper, garlic, onion, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. If it's really wet, add more bread crumbs. Divide into two equal parts. Take off about 1/3 of each one and put to the side. Form the large part into a patty and make it a little thinner in the middle than the edges. Put a mound of shredded cheese (probably 1-2 TBSP) on top of the patty and then take the small part (the 1/3 you took off) and put that on top and completely enclose the cheese. Basically, at this point, it should look like a regular burger patty.

Add the patties to the pan and let cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Serve on toasted buns with your favorite condiments. We used garlic mayonnaise, which was really delicious.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mac & Cheese with Chicken Meatballs

I believe I've mentioned on this blog that I sort of love ground chicken. Especially chicken burgers. They're so versatile and flavorful. So, when I was looking for a non-lasagna way to use up a tub of ricotta cheese and came across this recipe for chicken meatballs, with a mac & cheese, I was in.

This was a fun recipe to make. The meatballs are juicy and practically bursting with flavor and the cheese sauce is a lovely compliment. It's also a really quick recipe - you realistically can get the entire thing done in 30 minutes, which I really appreciate.

Mac & Cheese with Chicken Meatballs
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray
Serves 4
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 20 minutes

1 lb penne pasta (or similar size)
1/2 lb ground chicken
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/3 cup bread crumbs (more if needed)
1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup 2% milk
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 

Mix together the ground chicken, rosemary, garlic, ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. If the mixture seems to wet, add more bread crumbs. Form into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.  Place on a baking dish and coat with olive oil. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

While the meatballs are roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles to al dente. Drain and set aside. 

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour (I also added 1 TBSP minced garlic). Whisk together and let cook for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken stock and milk and whisk together. Let cook to thicken for 5-10 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Add the remaining 1 cup Parmesan cheese and whisk together until the cheese is melted. 

Toss with the pasta and serve with meatballs on top.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Apple Skillet Pie

I don't know if I'm the only one who does this, but whenever I buy those pre-made roll-out pie crusts, I end up using only one of the two in the package and never know what to do with the other one. The single crust usually ends up sitting in my fridge for months before I decide there isn't anything I will ever use it for and throw it out. Yes, I know I could avoid this debacle just by making the crust from scratch, but let's face it - as delicious as it is, who has time for that?

That's where this recipe comes in. It has all the great things about apple pie, but takes a fraction of the time to make. I made it in my cast iron skillet, just because I like making things in cast iron, but I'm sure a pie plate would be good, too. It also makes a really tasty breakfast, for those of you who like getting a nice unhealthy start to your day.

Apple Skillet Pie
Serves 8-10
Prep Time - 20 minutes
Cook Time - one hour

1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
6 big apples
1 roll-out refrigerated pie crust
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1-2 TBSP milk
sugar, for dusting

Melt butter over medium-low heat in a cast iron skillet. Once butter is melted, add the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

While the butter is melting, start peeling, coring, and cutting the apples into slices. I used 6 really big apples but could've used one or two more because my skillet is really big. Add them to the pan and stir to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and put the pie crust on the top. Cut a few slits in the crust to allow the steam to escape.

Brush the top of the crust with the egg/milk wash and sprinkle with some sugar (this is optional, but it looks pretty).

Put in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the crust is nice and golden brown. Depending on how full your skillet is, you may want to put a cookie sheet under the skillet to catch anything that may seep out of the pan.

Let cool for about an hour before cutting and eating. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chicken Spanakopita Burgers

I love chicken burgers. They're such a nice alternative to a regular beef burger - light, juicy, full of flavor. I'm pretty sure my husband thinks I'm a little obsessed. These burgers came on my radar when I had a bunch of leftover feta and tzaziki sauce from the Chicken Souvlaki I made earlier in the week.

Before we get to the recipe, we should be clear on something - this burger tastes nothing like spanakopita, which is a Greek spinach pie. I don't think it's meant to, though. Sure, the general flavor profile is there, but what you get is a really flavorful burger.

Chicken Spanakopita Burgers
Recipe from Rachael Ray
Serves 2
Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 10 minutes

1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz frozen spinach, defrosted
1/2 tsp dried oregano (be generous)
2 oz feta cheese crumbles
1/2 lb ground chicken
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
toasted buns
sliced tomatoes
sliced onions
tzaziki sauce

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions get soft and translucent. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Put the defrosted spinach into kitchen towel and wring out to remove the excess water. Add it to the bowl with the cooled onions and garlic and 1/2 tsp oregano.

Add in the ground chicken, feta crumbles, salt, & pepper. Mix to combine and form into two patties.

Melt 1 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Once the pan is hot, add the patties and cook for about 5 minutes per side.

When cooked through, put them on toasted buns and garnish as desired.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Shredded Beef Patty Melts

Grilled sandwiches are my absolute favorite. I blame credit my husband for this. He makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches on the planet. Really - they're amazing. I don't know what he does, but I can't replicate it no matter how hard I try. He somehow manages to achieve the perfect balance of melty cheese and crispy, not too greasy, bread. When I try, I usually end up with nice melted cheese, but my bread gets to be a soggy mess. It's rather pathetic.

I came up with the idea for this sandwich when I realized I had a bunch of leftover shredded beef in my freezer. I didn't want to do the same old thing with the beef, which is usually making it into a French dip style sandwich. Instead, I decided to try making it into a patty melt, of sorts. I was really impressed with the results. It was reminiscent of the French dip sandwiches I usually make, but the grilled bread gave it a little something extra. I'm looking forward to making these again the next time I have leftover beef.

Shredded Beef Patty Melts
Makes 2 sandwiches
Cook & Prep Time - about 20 minutes

4 slices sourdough bread
6 slices Muenster cheese
shredded beef  (I recommend this recipe)
caramelized onions

Caramelize one sliced onion in about 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-low heat. Season with just a little bit of salt to help draw out the moisture from the onions. Stir occasionally.

While the onions are caramelizing, heat up the beef in a medium pot to warm it through.  

Once the onions are caramelized, heat a large pan to medium heat. 

Build the sandwich in this order: Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 1 1/2 slices of cheese on top of the bottom slice (non-buttered side) for each sandwich (or however much cheese you need to cover the slice). Put a layer of the shredded beef on top of the cheese and put the onions on top of the beef. Top with another 1 1/2 slices of cheese and put the top slice of bread on each sandwich. Transfer to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chicken Souvlaki

We love to grill. Even though we grilled a few times this winter (including once when it was 1 degree outside), we have started firing up the grill more often since the snow has started melting. One of the first things we made was Chicken Souvlaki, which, basically, a chicken kebab marinated in a blend of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and dried herbs. We served it on pita bread with tzaziki sauce, onions, and diced tomato, sort of like a gyro. The flavors are truly amazing. I was a bit skeptical making a marinade with so much balsamic vinegar, but it really is the star of this marinade. Give it a try - I know you'll love it.

Chicken Souvlaki
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
Serves 3-4
Prep Time - 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time - at least 8 hrs
Cook Time - about 15 minutes

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

Optional garnishes:
Pita bread, warmed up
feta cheese
diced tomatoes
sliced onions

Mix together the garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, rosemary, salt, & pepper in a zip-lock bag. Add the chicken and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 8 hrs, up to overnight.

About 30 minutes before you're ready to start cooking, take the chicken out of the refrigerator and put on skewers. Discard the marinade.

Pre-heat the grill and place the skewers on the prepared grill. Cook until juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side.

Remove from skewers and put on pita bread and top with your favorite pita toppings.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pizza Burgers

As I mentioned in my last post, my life has changed a lot lately. My work schedule has been a bit crazy and I've been keeping some odd hours. It sort of feels like I've been living in bizzaro-world. The check-out guy at the grocery store recently told my husband and myself to have a good evening. I was so confused... then I realized it was almost 3 pm. I'd been awake for two hours, at most. Luckily, this isn't going to last a whole lot longer.

I recently had about a half of a loaf of some really delicious focaccia bread to use up. Conveniently, I came across a pizza burger recipe that used focaccia instead of regular buns. It sounded interesting to me, and my husband is always up for things involving pizza. Or burgers. I didn't follow the recipe closely but I don't think I'd change a thing about what I did.

This was really good. I don't think focaccia is necessary, but if you have it, I think it added a little something.

Pizza Burgers
Inspired by Rachael Ray
Makes 2 burgers
Cook & Prep Time - 20 minutes

1 jar spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce
1-2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 lb Italian sausage
15-20 slices pepperoni, cut into small pieces
1/2 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
~1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (I'm guessing - I eyeballed it)
1-2 leaves basil, chiffonade (optional)
mozzarella cheese
focaccia bread, cut into two burger-sized pieces.

In a small pot, heat up the spaghetti sauce.

Heat up a couple of TBSP oil in a medium pan over medium heat.  Also pre-heat the broiler.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, Italian sausage, pepperoni, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and basil. Form into two patties. Add to the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes per side, or until cooked through.

Transfer the burgers to a cookie sheet and top with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese. Put under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese gets bubbly.

While the burgers are under the broiler, toast the focaccia buns for a couple of minutes (I did this in my toaster oven).

Put the burgers on the toasted buns and enjoy!

Oh, the Times, They are A-Changing

Hello - I'm back! As you can see, I've made a few changes around here. My life has changed a bit over the past month and half, and I've found myself needing a lot more fast, easy meals. When I get home from work, I want to make simple things I can get done in less than 20 minutes. While I don't expect this re-emerged craziness to last too long, I've been really enjoying the different type of cooking I've been doing. So, I am changing the focus of my blog. From now on, my blog will focus on the many wonderful sandwiches, burgers, and homemade pizzas that have now become a weekly staple in my life. Don't worry - that doesn't mean I'll completely abandon my yummy deserts, pastas, or deep fried goodies completely. You'll still see plenty of those mixed in. But I hope to make this blog a source of quick, satisfying meals that everyone in your family will enjoy.

I hope you like the changes I'm making and please feel free to leave me any feedback in the comments!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Life is getting hectic and I'm going to be taking a break from posting for a while. I hope to be back to my regularly scheduled blogging soon.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Queso Fundido Burgers

When I was on vacation a couple of months ago, the resort we stayed at had a great Mexican restaurant. One of the times we ate there, the hostess gave me a Spanish-language menu. I don't speak the best Spanish, but I do alright. It ended up being a great thing, because the Spanish menu had Queso Fundido on it. Turns out the English menu did too, but they called it something like "Melted Cheese Dip." Apparently we were supposed to understand that meant something different than a pot of melted cheese with tortilla chips to dip in them. I knew it was going to be great when the waiter came out with a smoking molcajete filled with the cheesy goodness. I've been searching for similar recipes ever since we got home. 

Of course, if I do find one, I'm going to have to find a molcajete to prepare it in, but I'm not concerning myself with that too much. They sell those at Williams Sonoma, right? 

Anyway, my search for the perfect queso fundido recipe led me to this recipe. My love of Rick Bayless recipes is no secret. My love of burgers isn't, either. Combine the two? I'm in.

This was a really good burger. The combination of beef, chorizo, and roasted poblano was great. However, the chorizo was a bit strong and I think this burger would also be great without it. I'm considering making them again soon without the chorizo and with ground turkey or chicken instead of ground beef. I'll let you know how that goes.

Queso Fundido Burgers
Recipe by Rick Bayless, adapted
Makes 3-4 burgers

1 poblano pepper
1 large onion, half minced and half sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
1/4 lb chorizo
1 chipotle in adobo, seeded and finely minced
salt & pepper
Sliced Monterrey Jack cheese
toasted buns

To roast the poblano, preheat the oven to 450. Put the poblano in the oven for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn it over and roast it for 5 more. Repeat this process until it's blistered and blackened all over (this took me about 20 minutes). 

Take it out of the oven and put it in a ziplock bag for about 20 minutes. After about 20 minutes, take it out of the bag and peel off the skin (it's really more like a combination of peeling and rubbing) and take out the seeds and ribs. Chop the poblano into a small dice.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, chorizo, minced onion, garlic, poblano, salt & pepper, and the chipotle in adobo. Divide the meat into 3-4 equal portions (depending on how big of a burger you want). 

Heat a large pan over medium heat. Put a couple TBSP of oil in the pan. Put the burgers in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes a side.

Meanwhile, put another couple of TBSP of oil in another pan and cook the sliced onions till not quite yet caramelized. 

In another pan or in the oven, toast the buns.

Just before the burgers are done, preheat the broiler.

When the burgers are done, top them with the sliced Monterrey Jack cheese and put under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese gets melty and bubbly. 

Take out of the oven and put the burgers on the toasted buns. Top with the fried onions and enjoy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fetuccini in Roasted Garlic Pesto Cream Sauce

Dishes like this are what happen when I don't know what to make for dinner but discover about a half of a box of fetuccini, a half of a tub of roasted garlic pesto sauce, and some dairy liquid in my fridge. The combination of the roasted garlic pesto with the slightly-cheesy cream sauce was the perfect combination and a great dinner for a cold night.

Fetuccini in Roasted Garlic Pesto Cream Sauce
Serves 3-4
Cook & Prep Time - 20 minutes

Fetuccini noodles (I used a little more than 1/2 of a box)
1 TBSP butter
1-2 TBSP flour
2 cloves garlic
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.
1/4 cup (or so) pesto sauce 
salt & pepper

Cook the pasta to al dente. Drain & set aside.

Melt butter over medium heat in a big pot or dutch oven. Whisk in the flour and let cook for about a minute. Add the milk and stock and whisk. Let cook for a few minutes, or until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the garlic and season with a bit of salt & pepper. 

Add the cheese and whisk together. Cook for a few more minutes. 

Stir in the pesto sauce and toss with the noodles. Serve and top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


On Christmas Eve, I decided I wanted to be eating some fudge. I decided this knowing full well that I didn't have most of the ingredients for fudge. The grocery store was out - it was about the last place I wanted to be. I decided to brave Target, and if the parking lot was too scary, I'd just turn around and go back home and forget about the fudge I was so wanting to eat. 

It ended up being fine. Much less busy than I thought it would be. The amount of people there who seemed to be doing every last bit of their Christmas shopping (at about 4 pm on Christmas Eve) was a little shocking, but I guess some people don't really plan ahead.

I've made this fudge before and always have great results. I've tried other recipes and they never get quite as smooth as this one. 

Recipe from Carnation
Total Prep & Cook Time - about 15 min

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 (5 oz) can evaporated milk (2/3 cup)
2 TBSP butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
1 tsp vanilla

Line an 8x8 pan with foil. Set aside.

Combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly. Bring to a full rolling boil. Keep it boiling and keep stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the marshmallows, chocolate chips, and vanilla. Stir until everything is melted and combined. This should take about a minute.

Pour into the pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs. When firm, take them out of the pan and remove foil. Cut them into small slices to serve.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Enchiladas Suizas

If you've never eaten at one of Rick Bayless's restaurants or made one of his recipes at home, you're truly missing out. I'm amazed by each and every one I make. These enchiladas are really no exception. They're the type of dinner that you tell yourself you're going to stop after one enchilada, but by the time you've stopped eating, you've mysteriously devoured two (or more).

Because I took this out of my Rick Bayless cookbook, I'm not posting the recipe. But that should just be more incentive for you to go out and buy your own copy, right?